Eleanor Oliphant: I Adored this Magnificent Piece of Writing but Most Definitely Did Not Find it Funny!

Eleanor OliphantI gobbled up the first ten chapters of my latest read, the bestselling sensation Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. It truly is a marvellous book in many ways, exploring society on a level that fiction rarely does. Debut author Gail Honeyman should be incredibly proud of herself for this stunning piece of writing.

It’s no exaggeration to say I struggled through the next twenty chapters. Not because the story was rubbish all of a sudden, far from it. I just couldn’t (and still can’t!) get my head around how anyone would find it funny. The word is used in four of the six quotes on the covers, and most people I know who have personally recommended the book have also said how “hilarious” it is.

So I did the only sensible thing I could think of, and stayed up well past bedtime last night to polish off the last ten chapters. Here are my thoughts, I will do my best not to spoil it for those who’ve not read it.

Eleanor Oliphant is absolutely not fine!

Eleanor Oliphant is thirty years old and has had the same low paying job in an SME since graduating university. She is very socially awkward, and often misreads (or simply doesn’t understand) what is going on around her. She lives alone, and as a rule does not speak to another human between getting home from work on Friday to returning on Monday. She is incredibly intelligent and well read, and does not wallow in self-pity. She eats the same food every day, and drinks two bottles of vodka per week.

Fairly early on we start uncovering Eleanor’s horrendous childhood, and how she partially grew up in care. The full horrors are thankfully never graphically described, and credit to Gail Honeyman, because I for one can’t stomach graphic details. You have to read the entire book to discover Eleanor’s full back story, but the snippets we are given throughout give us enough information to go on. It’s clear that Eleanor is deeply troubled, not to mention phenomenally lonely, and drinks vodka to numb her pain.

Shortly after the story begins, Eleanor strikes up an unlikely friendship, her first proper friend. Someone who isn’t going to screw her over and has her back. Their relationship is genuine and heartwarming, and proves that kindness can be found everywhere when we open our eyes to it.

Is Eleanor Oliphant a female Adrian Mole? 

Eleanor OliphantIn many ways I liken Eleanor to a female Adrian Mole, who I hero worshipped when I was a kid. He provided the backdrop to my own less than perfect childhood, and I absolutely loved all of the late Sue Townsend’s books. Part of me wants to read them again, because I’m almost convinced I will feel the same way about Adrian as I now do about Eleanor.

I see a lot of my daughter Polly’s struggles in Eleanor and am convinced she is on the spectrum. You’ll only get as far as “Is Eleanor Ol….” before Google assumes you want to know if she is autistic. I fear that many of those who are finding Eleanor funny are actually laughing at her, not with her. Perhaps this is just me being overly sensitive due to my own circumstances?

Either way, it’s the reason I struggled through half the book. Eleanor’s awkwardness is cringe worthy at points. She misinterprets many situations, and takes things literally, just like Polly does. Unlike my girl, Eleanor has no-one to bounce her ideas off, and help decode this confusing world.

Eleanor drowns her sorrows in the classic way, and drinks down her tricky feelings. I’ve known so many people over the years who will discuss the minutiae of nothing, yet are completely incapable of processing even slightly uncomfortable emotions. This is a serious problem that rarely gets discussed.

Are mental health problems inescapable when you suffered a traumatic childhood?  

I’ve never encountered a single person who had a traumatic childhood and did not encounter ill mental health at some point as an adult. Anxiety and depression are rife among my own friends, even those who have had extensive therapy and great careers. I honestly don’t know what I’d have done throughout my lowest lows had it not been for my friends. I still have moments of feeling incredibly lonely, and I am blessed with hundreds of friends all over the world. I cannot imagine a life without friendships.

It’s a heartbreaking prospect to think children who go through such trauma, then slip through the cracks in a largely uncaring society. They get no support as adults, and with government cuts getting more brutal each year, things will only get worse as time goes on. The sheer volume of vulnerable young adults who end up being groomed, or enter into violent relationships is absolutely shocking.

Does Eleanor get a happy ending?  

You’ll have to read the book yourself to discover the answer. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it if you do! Tweet me @mummytries 

 

Can’t Stop Breaking Your Phone? You Need these Top Tips!

If, like me, you are incapable of not breaking your phone, then you need to read on my friends. I have broken no less than three phones in the last year. THREE! My inability to have a piece of tech for longer than a week without an issue is becoming the unfunniest running joke in my house. Of course my husband thinks it’s hilarious. After I dropped the second phone in four months down the loo recently, I started thinking about little rules I could create for myself to stop this from ever happening again.

breaking your phoneI am far from being alone when it comes to phone breaking 

I had genuinely started thinking I was cursed and or on a par with most reality TV “stars” in the stooopid department. Turns out many of the parents I know have broken their phones in weird and wonderful ways. So, I thought I’d bring you a little list of all the things you should not do if you want your phone to last the duration of it’s contract. I’ve had a bit of help from my blogging friends, and have linked back to their blogs with their comments. Do check them out if you’re in need of reading material, they’re a marvellous bunch.

Here are my top three rules, which I’ll be living by, come hook or by crook!

  1. Never take it to the toilet.
  2. Never keep it in your back pocket.
  3. Never let your kids look at it, let alone touch the thing!

Stop breaking your phone with these top tips (in no particular order)

breaking your phoneAmy from Amy Treasure Blog sagely warns “do not keep it in your bra.”

Donna from What the Redhead Saidadvises “not to put it in the front pocket of your dungarees if you might need the toilet. I have dropped mine so many times like that as I always forget it’s there.” (feeling your pain, Donna!)

Both Emma of Free From Farmhouse and Midge of The Peachick’s Bakery both say “don’t put it on the roof of the car while getting the kids in and then drive off.”

Victoria of VeViVo’s says “don’t put it on the edge of the bath, unless you are willing for it to go for a swim.”

Kate, the Gluten Free Alchemist says “never get it out whilst carrying two bags and walking down stairs, unless you want a smashed screen and destroyed touch passcode connector! Also, in the eventuality of submerging in water, ALWAYS put it in a tub of rice and ALWAYS remember not to cook the rice afterwards!” (Yikkkkes!)

Mel from Le Coin de Mel says “don’t put it in the front pocket of your hoodie.”

Chrissie from The Muddled Manuscript says “never try to protect it by putting it in your hoody pocket then leaning over to bathe your children…”

Emma from Writing Life As It Is simply advises to “never leave it behind!”

Mandi from Big Family Organised Chaos warns to “never stand up with headphones attached to your phone and then stare as the phone smashes to the floor!”

Lisa from That British Betty says “don’t use it as a music device when cooking – it *may* end up in the boiling pan of rice!”

Sara from Mum Turned Mom specifies “don’t jump up and down on the ‘shaky bridge’ in Cork!”

Hayley from Miss Many Pennies says “never put it loose in your bag and forget to zip it up.”

Becky from Mommy and Rory says “never leave it where you friends Labrador can reach it!”

breaking your phoneNatalie from Plutonium Sox says to “buy a case before the phone arrives. I had three days without a case between getting the phone and getting the case. Smashed the back of it on day two!”

Jodie at Maidenhead Mum says “never leave it on the bed as you’re changing the duvet cover as it might get mixed up with it and end up in the washing machine. On a 1600 spin cycle. And you might not realise for 40 mins! R.I.P iPhone!”

Leigh from Dad Geek has some great advice. “Modern batteries operate best if you DON’T let them run out completely. Keep your phone charged at 15% upwards and it helps to increase how long you’ll get the most battery life out of your phone.”

Rebecca from My Girls and Me says “buy glass screen protectors, because they’ll break before your actual screen does!”

Nita from Mummy Wishes warns “to not use a selfie stick! It either pops out eventually or gets knocked by someone/something.”

Emma-Louise from Even Angels Fall warns to “never put it in your mouth whilst using a public toilet, for safe keeping, only for it to then fall in… on second thoughts, just don’t put it in your mouth full stop.”

Kelly-Anne from Mimi Rose and Me says to “never throw your phone at a wall because you think you have a spider on you, it will most likely be a loose strand of your own hair!”

If you have anything to add, tweet me @mummytries 

Wishing you the best of luck with getting to the end of your contract, without breaking your phone!  

Refined Sugar Free Chutney | Paleo | Vegan | Very Low Natural Sugar | Three Ingredients

Need a silly easy recipe for refined sugar free chutney? Look no further…

refined sugar free chutney
When I returned from a year of living in Cambodia in 2006, it was with a very heavy heart. I was down and out and ridiculously vulnerable. I worked briefly for my friend’s (now ex) husband which did not end well. Then I worked for a year for a man who was essentially the male version of Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada.

Yes. He was that bad!

He’d come into the office the morning after watching The Apprentice thinking he was Lord Al. Firing people left, right and centre over the silliest things. I was one of his right hand wo/men, and stood on the correct side of him. Until I dared to disagree with him that is, then he turned on me quicker than milk left in the blazing sun. We were on a jolly up in a foreign country. It was the catalyst for my second mental breakdown, hitting rock bottom and turning my life around. I guess in a way I have a lot to thank him for.

refined sugar free chutneyYou might be wondering what all this has to do with refined sugar free chutney?

After I was eventually freed from that particular toxic environment I couldn’t face getting another job. So I set up my own business making dips and chutneys from my little kitchen in Streatham. Having recently gone refined sugar free (this was 2007) I wanted to create food that would appeal to people eating like I was. Alas, it was way ahead of it’s time, and ended up bankrupting me. You live and you learn though, and I genuinely would not change a thing.

Life lessons like that sometimes take, well, a lifetime to gather. In the year that followed they were plentiful and shaped the way I now think. Especially when it comes to money. This might sound silly to some, but if you aren’t taught financial well being at a young age it can have devastating consequences. More on that topic another time.

Just like all my other recipes, this is also low in natural sugar. Regular readers will know by now that nothing winds me up more than someone calling a recipe sugar free only for it to be loaded to the hilt with sugars and sweeteners. Most food in it’s natural state (fruit, veg, grains, nuts…) contains some form of sugar. If you aren’t adding any to your recipe you wouldn’t call it sugar free you would say no added sugar.

I’m sharing a small batch recipe here, but it lends itself marvellously to being made in a bigger batch. I once turned 200kg of onions into 500 jars for a trade show. My friend said the house smelled like pickled onion monster munch and refused to sleep on our couch in case the scent never came out of his clothes. Oh how different things are now, eleven years later with three children to keep me busy.

refined sugar free chutney

What you’ll need to make a small jar of my refined sugar free chutney

A clean 350g jar, you can sterilise it if you wish
Small lidded saucepan
Spatula
Sharp knife
Chopping board

refined sugar free chutney500g onions
1/2cup or 120ml vinegar
(I’ve used raw organic cider vinegar here but balsamic also works wonderfully)
1/4cup or 35g sugar
(I’ve used organic coconut blossom, but muscovado works great too. You could use honey, but I feel that cooking honey for this long would be a waste of all the gorgeous nutrients. You could also use maple syrup or coconut nectar)

Method

– chop your onions any way you wish and place them in your saucepan

– sprinkle over the sugar

– pour over the vinegar

– place on the highest heat for about 30 seconds, then turn down low and put the lid on your saucepan

– simmer for one hour, checking in every 10 minutes or so and stirring to ensure it’s not getting burnt

– add a small drop of water to loosen the chutney if it does start getting a little bit stuck to the pan

– allow to cool and decant into your glass jar, keep in the fridge

– wow all your friends at barbecues with your home made condiments

– this is a perfect accompaniment for burgers. Check out my trio of easy home made burgers

 

 

Centime Gift | Gorgeous Personalised Jewellery with Free Worldwide Postage #ad

I’m not the biggest jewellery fan, but I’ve always been a sucker for well thought out personalised pieces. If you are anything like me, you’ll absolutely adore the selection at Centime Gift.

Centime GiftTop quality sterling silver and gold plated personalised jewellery 

I couldn’t resist the stunning tree of life necklace pictured here on the left. I had it engraved with the five names of my family and it’s a real head turner. I get complimented on it every time I wear it.

The pendant is very weighty and well made, and it comes with a lovely thin chain. I opted for sterling silver, but you can also go for yellow gold plated or rose gold plated. It’s worth mentioning that the silver is not marked 925, but it is guaranteed. You get six options for chain length – 14″ to 24″ – I went for the 18″ chain which sits perfectly on my chest.

The ordering process could not be simpler, and there are size guides on the website to ensure you order correctly. All items come gift boxed with a cleaning cloth.

Free worldwide postage

Don’t you just hate it when you get as far as the checkout only to discover the website’s postage fees are extortionate? Well you don’t have any of that nonsense to worry about with Centime Gift. Although they are based in the States, they offer free worldwide delivery, as well as an expedited option if you need your order super fast. My items arrived an impressive eleven days after placing the order, through the regular postal service. Quite impressive, I’m sure you’ll agree.

A few ideas from Centime Gift

Mother and child necklaces to suit all styles. These beautiful necklaces are designed to let mums’ pride shine. Everything from the classic two pieces of the same heart, to more intricate designs such as baby’s footprints, intertwined rings and bar shaped tags. All engraved with the names of loved ones, there is something that will appeal to every mum.

centime giftThese gorgeous bracelets are engraved with handwriting, and can contain a message of up to twenty words long. You simply upload a file of the writing you want to use. It can be your own, a loved one or you could even take a photo of an old card or letter.

For the Granny’s in your life, Centime Gift have a fab range of necklaces to keep all the names of the Grandchildren close. My favourite is this one, made up of five intertwined rings which is able to hold up to twenty names.

Good core values

I loved reading about the founder of Centime Gift’s story. Ginny and her team are completely committed to producing unique, quality pieces. It’s evident they love what they do, and it shines through in the designs.

“Hi, I’m Ginny. I started Centime because I was sick of generic, branded gifts with no soul. As I have always loved to make my own jewelry and gifts, I dreamed of creating handmade gifts with a timeless appeal and personal touch.

Centime was born out of that dream, and I am grateful to be living my dream everyday. All the posts in this blog were written by me, using years of experience as a jeweler so that you can pick out the perfect gifts that are not just gifts but symbols of everlasting love. Love for keeps, we call them.”

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids: What They Are and Why They’re So Important #ad

There is much talk about omega-3 fatty acids, but what is all the fuss really about?

Along with omega-6 fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids are vital for humans to function healthfully. They are known as essential fatty acids, and they contribute largely towards maintaining the structure and function of our bodies cells. They help us absorb vitamins and minerals, promote nerve function, aid in the production of hormones and not only prevent, but treat disease.

omega-3 fatty acidsOur bodies can not naturally produce these essential fatty acids, and unfortunately mainstream Western thinking largely deems all fat to be bad for our health (even though it’s now been proven that there are good fats we need).

If you are among the many who are not consuming enough omega-3s through diet alone, you might want to consider taking a good quality supplement such as OmegaBrite. After an independent study conducted at Ohio State University, OmegaBrite became the first omega-3 clinically shown to reduce stress in a normal population.

Not all omegas are created equal

Omega-6s are found plentifully in grain based oils and lots of enriched processed foods. While we need both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, most westerners consume far too much omega-6 and not nearly enough omega-3.

Our diet has massively evolved over the last few centuries, and it’s knocked our nutrient sources and ratios out of whack. Back in ancient times, it was thought that they would consume a 1:1 diet of omega-3s to omega-6s. Nowadays the average person consumes a diet consisting of twenty to thirty times more omega-6 than they do omega-3.

This adaptation has occurred too fast for our bodies to adjust, and is believed to be a huge factor in causing many ailments including inflammation, arthritis, skin disorders and depression. As with all vitamins and minerals, the best way to give ourselves a boost is to eat more foods containing them.

omega-3 fatty acidsFive foods that will naturally boost your omega-3 fatty acids

Mackerel: not only is this oily fish a great source of Omega-3, it’s also rich in vitamin D, protein and selenium. It’s said to help our chances against cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, as well as age-related vision loss and dementia.

Walnuts: these crinkly nuts have always been seen as brain foods, which makes sense, given how much they look alike. As well as their omega-3 benefits, walnuts contain vitamins C and B6 as well as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and folate. They also contain minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc.

Chia seeds: these tiny black seeds come from the Salvia Hispanica plant, a relation to mint, which grows natively in South America. Chia seeds were a staple for the Aztecs and Mayans, and have shot to fame in recent years for their ability to provide sustainable energy. They’re small but mighty, and in addition to omega-3 they contain calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, potassium and vitamins B1, B2 and B3.

Flaxseed: is high in dietary fibre, but low in carbs and high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B1, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium. Flaxseed helps to make our skin and hair healthy, and can lower cholesterol. Flaxseed are naturally gluten free and rich in antioxidants. They support digestive health, and could assist us with preventing certain types of cancer.

Egg yolks: I could personally talk about the multiple benefits of eating eggs all day long. As long as they come from a quality source, eggs are an incredibly versatile wonder food. Egg yolks are easy to digest and contain vitamins A, D, E, K and B12, along with omega-3.

This fantastically detailed article by functional health guru Dr. Josh Axe details the top 15 foods we should be eating to boost our omega-3 intake.

omega-3 fatty acidsAbout OmegaBrite 

OmegaBrite is an extremely pure 90% Omega-3 Supplement, physician formulated by a Harvard trained psychiatrist to promote cardiac and joint health and an overall positive mood. OmegaBrite’s unique EPA:DHA ratio 7:1 is available in an easy to swallow 500mg gelcap that delivers powerful anti-inflammatory effects and promotes overall better health, as well as improving cognitive clarity.

Produced using Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP), each batch of OmegaBrite is third party tested before, during and after production to guarantee quality and purity. Each gelcap is manufactured using nitrogen blanketing to prevent oxidation, resulting in an odour free, no aftertaste capsule.

For more information on pharmaceutical grade omega-3 supplementation, and comprehensive research sources, head over to OmegaBrite.com.

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